Published: 26/10/2013 12:48 - Updated: 26/10/2013 13:27

Full reaction to Friday's Highland derby black-out

ROSS County chairman Roy MacGregor apologised to fans after Friday night’s black-out led to the half-time postponement of Ross County’s derby with Caley Thistle.

The Scottish Premiership match, which was being shown live on BT Sport at Victoria Park Stadium in Dingwall, known also as the Global Energy Stadium.

MacGregor, who is also the chief of Global Energy, was left reeling that the game, which was goalless at the rain-drenched venue, had to be halted after efforts to get the lights back on failed at the third attempt with more than 5,000 estimated fans in the ground.

He said: “We have let everyone down and I feel really sorry for the fans, the players and the people watching on television. The game was starting to bubble up nicely and this is a showcase occasion for both clubs.

“We don’t know for sure what the problem was, but it was something outside the stadium because our electricity in other parts is fine. So, it was something out with our control, but I can’t help but feel sorry for the people who came to the game.

“We have had a lot of rain, so that is maybe what caused it – we will get the electricity company to look into it and provide answers. We tried three times to get the floodlights back on, but they wouldn’t stay on, so the referee and police had no option but to call the match off.”

He added: “All I am interested in is how the fans feel. There was a great atmosphere and the Inverness fans stayed back and sang, so it’s just disappointing it had to be called off. It feels like we’ve lost because it’s the entertainment business and we’ve let everyone down.”

When the game is rescheuled, County will grant free entry to all ticket holders from Friday’s fixture.

Match referee John Beaton said following the 30-minute delay then third failure of the floodlights: “The police said if they went again they could not really leave it any longer. Unfortunately, that was the case.

“It is the first time I have had to abandon a match, certainly at this level. I don’t think anyone knows at this stage what caused it. I don’t know if there was some sort of overload on the system, they certainly alluded to that.”

The Dingwall club have also issued a statement in the wake of the call-off.

It said: “Ross County would like to apologise to all fans for the abandonment of Friday’s match against Inverness Caledonian Thistle. In the light of power supply issues affecting the stadium, and in particular the floodlights, in the interests of health and safety there was simply no other choice.

“The club would like to thank all fans and, in particular, the stewarding and policing operation for their co-operation and assistance in what were extremely challenging circumstances for all concerned.

“Further announcements will be made as early as it is possible to do so, but we would once again like to remind all fans in attendance to retain their ticket stubs where applicable.”

In the 45 minutes that were played, the visitors had the best of the play, although the Staggies, especially through Melvin de Leeuw, looked a threat on the break.

Caley Thistle midfielder Nick Ross came closest to scoring when his early shot was saved by goalkeeper Mark Brown.

Cards were totting up too with de Leeuw, Kevin Luckassen and Mihael Kovacevic booked for the hosts and Gary Warren and Ross Draper yellow-carded for ICT.

Home boss Adams, who left captain Richard Brittain on the bench in place of Luckassen, felt his team could have gone on to claim all the points, extended their unbeaten derby run to 12 matches, stretching back to 2004.

He explained: “I am disappointed. I thought we had a good opportunity to win the match and did well enough in the first half to contain them. I thought the advantage was with us and that we were going to go on and win it. It is frustrating for everyone.”

Adams also felt Caley Thistle were fortunate not to have been reduced to 10 men, adding: “Ross Draper’s challenge should have been a sending off and Gary Warren’s was a really bad tackle. It was a shocking challenge (on Melvin de Leeuw) to start the game. I thought both of them were worthy of red cards.”

Inverness manager Terry Butcher, who handed starts to defender Carl Tremarco and Marley Watkins in place of injured Raven and benched Ben Greenhalgh, said: “Ultimately, it is the referee’s decision and we came to an agreement that third time around we could not leave it any longer. Everyone understands that. The players were inactive for 30 minutes and health and safety for the players has to be considered.

“With the supporters sitting in the dark as well we could not have left it any longer. They managed to get the lights back on but this time we were left in the dark again – I have never seen anything like this.

“We were disappointed because I felt we were doing well in the first half without creating too many chances. It was just a case of being more ruthless in the final third and having more composure. There was more to come from us, but the game was boiling up nicely and I was looking forward to the second half.

“You can’t pass the ball in the dark – although we have played like that at times this season!

“It is frustrating but at least we could have four-and-a-half Highland derbies this term – that is the only good thing.”

Butcher added he experienced a black-out when he played for Ipswich in Alan Hunter’s testimonial against Celtic.

The next scheduled derby between the rivals is set for New Year’s Day at the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium in Inverness.

*** Former Caley Thistle and Ross County defender, who was released from his County contract a fortnight ago to focus on a career away from the sport, has signed a three-year deal with Highland League big spenders Brora Rangers.

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